What would the Church of England be without gay people, wonders Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. “Well, desperately short of vicars for starters.” As many as 40% of clergy are said to be gay, and the number is surely higher for choir members. Without gay men, “the organ lofts of our great cathedrals would grow cobwebby with disuse and the thrumming resonant pipes fall silent”. Lose the gay organists, gay clergy, gay choir members and gay musicians from the King’s forthcoming Coronation and what would be left? “Two archbishops and a harpist.”
So imagine what it must be like to be one of these crucial, committed Christians, and know that you are forbidden to marry the person you love, “in what is quite literally your spiritual home”. Sadly, this rejection was confirmed last week, when bishops decided to uphold the Church’s traditional teaching that marriage is between “one man and one woman for life”. In a “classic C of E fudge”, priests will be allowed to perform a “blessing” service for gay couples who have been married in a civil ceremony. But why not go the whole hog? Concerns that the liturgy can’t encompass same-sex unions feel absurd given the “terrible unkindness” that exclusion does to thousands of the Church’s most devout adherents. Remember, it was once unimaginable to ordain women as priests or crown a divorced king, married to a divorced queen. And yet, no “lightning bolts or other signs of divine displeasure”. Things change. It’s time the half-gay Church did too.